Marvel Is Setting Unrealistic Body Image Standards For Men

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is awesome. I’m a huge fan of the films (especially Avengers and Iron Man), the series (especially WandaVision) and will passionately argue with anyone about whether Tony Stark or Steve Rogers was right in Civil War (Team Tony all the way; sorry Captain America fans).

But today I’m not here to talk about that. Today I’m here to talk about how watching dudes more ‘buff’ than a well-polished trophy makes the average guy feel.

Let’s be real, when Chris Evans first emerges after having the Super Soldier Serum in the first Captain America film, or when Michael B. Jordan appears shirtless in Black Panther or Chris Hemsworth’s tree-trunk arms in any Thor/Avengers film are impressive – but also set an unrealistic body image.

Roughly 1,000 people a month google ‘Avengers workout’ and 590 a month lookup ‘Chris Hemsworth workout and diet’. These simple google searches say that Hemsworth as well as Evans, Jordan and all the other Marvel men who bulked up for the franchise, tend to eat six to eight big meals a day and work out for a minimum of two hours a day.

While eating this amount of food isn’t necessarily impossible for the average Joe, following a Chris Hemsworth style diet can be a monumental task.

Some also reportedly dehydrate themselves before they go on camera so their muscles bulge and their six-packs ‘pop’ on camera.

Evans had to work out tremendously for the famous helicopter scene in Captain America: Civil War. Image Credit: Marvel Studios

But this is simply not sustainable for the average man – and not even for those Marvel stars. They only eat and workout that intensely when they’re prepping for an MCU film. When the film is done and dusted, they reduce both their calorie intake and hours spent in the gym.

And don’t get me wrong, being inspired by these actors’ bodies is fine; so long as you don’t go overboard with your training and diet, and don’t constantly compare yourself to what you see on screen – because this can lead to body dysmorphia or an eating disorder.

As former professional AFL player and current head trainer at Infinite Cycle, Alex Johnson advises, men should not be following the strict training regime Marvel stars or professional athletes undergo before filming or competing.

Johnson told DMARGE: “A superhero or a professional boxer or fighter are great people to inspire you to strive for a healthier lifestyle and better physique, however, following everyday their workout plans and eating habits are unsustainable for life.”

Johnson also warns that men can develop serious mental health issues by comparing themselves to actors and athletes as well as health issues by following a similar routine to what actors and athletes put their bodies through; which he stresses is extremely unhealthy when done without (and even sometimes with) the help of professional trainers and nutritionists.

Former Sydney Swans star Alex Johnson says exercise is important but “should only be a part of someone’s life”. Image Credit: AFL Media

“Body image is as important for males as it is for females. Unrealistic cutting of weight for films or fights, is not something that is healthy, and shouldn’t be done by the average person.”

Alex Johnson

Overall, you should just sit back and enjoy Marvel films for being the cool comic-book adaptations they are and don’t get hung up on what the actors look like – they are, after all, portraying ‘super’ humans – because it’s perfectly okay if you don’t look exactly like they do. As Johnson says, exercise should just be enjoyable and only a small part of your day.

“Exercise, whatever form that exercise is for an individual, should only be a part of someone’s life and become an enjoyable part of their day or their week. It should always be a part of a balanced diet and lifestyle.”

Alex Johnson

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